Turning Negatives Into Positives

Written by Jo Dakin

It can be difficult at times to stay positive in the face of real opposition or real challenges. It’s not always easy to work in a given environment or to have negative responses to your work or to your feedback. Difficult situations make for challenges in our daily lives.

Negative situations are everywhere we go. How we react to them, how we respond to them is what sets the tone for the continued interaction. There really is a silver lining in many of these situations. Sometimes it takes more effort to find it but once you do, you can take away something very positive from an uncomfortable situation.

If your work is being criticized, recognize that you can take a learning experience away from that and grow in your career. Despite it being proffered to you in a negative way, you need not allow the way in which it was offered to make the entire scenario negative.

Bear in mind that there are always going to be negative people around you. Whether they are in positions of authority or not, you’re going to have to deal with them. Allowing them to spread negativity and to damage morale—particularly yours, isn’t helping anyone and it won’t rectify the situation.

Negative people can often be managed by a pleasant response. You don’t own their negativity so don’t fuel it. Offer a smile, offer a sympathetic word and listen. Let people vent their anger or frustration if they need to do that, but don’t feed into it. If it is a supervisor who seems unduly harsh in their critique, try to look past the attitude and find the useful information there. Sometimes it’s difficult to do so, but if you can, you’ll likely take away something worthwhile.

Try to help to create a situation where the people around you feel as though they are worthwhile and included in discussions and situations. Help them to see their options, rather than to focus on the purely negative.

If the negativity is aimed directly at you, take a hard look at it. Are the comments about your work or your actions something that have real value? Even the rudest commentary–the most negative reaction may hide a grain of truth.

If it’s something that you can change, take a look at the value underlying the comment and act on it. If you can change it or it merits change, act on it. Taking a positive away from it puts you in the driver’s seat.

You are not always able to control a negative situation, but you can control your reaction to it. Keep an open mind and an upbeat attitude about any negative situation. Examine the situation in which you find yourself and take a breath before you respond. Some of the people that you honestly believe you’re not going to work well with or to interact well with can become your closest allies.

Keep in mind as you seek to keep your life and your workplace positive that sometimes negative reactions and negative emotions are completely appropriate, depending on the situation. There may not be a great solution for that but you can be a good listener who is available with a sympathetic ear and a reasonable response.

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